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Within this article, I will be talking about how to create a workout program, giving you the fundamentals to learn the basics of developing your own program. For me, it was quite satisfying to know that I had the experience and knowledge to create my own program, run it well, and see results.
I want to pass on some of this knowledge so you guys can get the same feeling and become more knowledgeable in this area. To do this, I will be breaking this article down into 3 distinct sections, these include:
- Knowing Your Goal
- Laying The Foundation
- Filling in The Cracks
Knowing Your Goal:
As it is with anything in fitness, we must know our goal before we can commit to, plan and execute our mission. When thinking about creating a workout program, we must have this same approach in mind. The goal we have will dictate what our entire program will look like, from our nutrition to our training and everything in between.
To give you some examples, below is a list of different goals with some basic guidelines that will go along with them:
- Hypertrophy – (Compound movements as our base, accessory exercises where and when needed, ensuring volume is where it needs to be)
- Strength – (Emphasis on the big three, variations and assistance exercises to build them up, working on weak points and fine-tuning)
- Power – (Compound movements with a focus on ones that can be accelerated, proper speed with lifts, working on weak areas of power)
With some main goals in mind, let’s take a look at laying the foundation of our programs for these goals!
Laying The Foundation:
With any foundation in relation to lifting, we have to make sure we have proper mobility, utilize effective warm-ups and are lifting with sound technique and proper weights. This is talked about more in-depth within one of my previous articles, “Fundamentals of Weight Training“. Assuming all of that is covered, it is now time to talk about laying the foundation of our actual program!
For me, laying the foundation means our main, compound movements and choosing ones that are relative to our goal. What I mean by this is choosing these exercises with our goal in mind. These main compound movements will lay our foundation by being highly conducive to our goals, being able to easily and effectively apply progressive overload to, and give us lots of options for training variety.
For example, if we are training for strength, these main compound movements would likely include the squat, bench press, deadlift and overhead press. This because they are highly conducive to strength for a variety of reasons. Secondly, if you compete in powerlifting, the first 3 of those 4 lifts are what is performed at an actual competition.
If you’re training for hypertrophy, your main movements may be focused on ones that allow you to feel the target muscle working the most, or ones that target weak points in your physique. While these often times still include the exercises mentioned above, you will see other exercises regularly implemented such as leg presses, incline bench presses, stiff leg deadlifts, or a seated overhead press.
The same applies to power training, the exercises mentioned first are all great options. However, Olympic lifting can be a great choice as well because of the acceleration component of the lifts. This helps us to move weights as fast as possible, while still under control of course. For those of you who don’t know, the Olympic lifts include “the snatch” and “the clean and jerk”.
Filling in The Cracks:
What I mean by this is, it would be difficult to get in all of our required training utilizing only the main compound lifts. Whether it is about fatigue management for strength training, being able to isolate a muscle and get in enough volume for hypertrophy or incorporating some overall variation for power training. This is where our assistance or accessory movements come into play.
For a goal of strength training, we may want to perform exercise variations such as utilizing bands to target weak points, or a front squat to further challenge our core stability. Those are a couple of examples. In addition to those, implementing exercises like the Bulgarian split squat which is done unilaterally to really help challenge our stability, or even a leg press to help us get in some additional volume; can be beneficial as well.
For a goal of hypertrophy, often times our accessory movements come down to targeting weak points, getting in volume and having good overall training variation. This may look like an incline dumbbell press performed after a bench press to help focus on our upper chest (a possible weak point in a physique). Or, this exercise may also allow you to feel your upper chest working more. You may then want to include a cable fly as a means of getting in some good volume with a low fatigue demand.
For power training, you may want to put yourself into your weak positions (safe ones of course) to exploit these and work on them. This could mean performing a dumbbell bench press to work on muscle imbalances, or performing movements done in the frontal plane to work on things like abductor or adductor weakness. These types of exercises could also include ones that you personally find to be quite beneficial for power training.
Included within this article was information to give you the fundamental knowledge you need to start thinking about how you can create your very own training programs/routines. From starting with your goal in mind to the main movements, all the way to the assistance and accessory work.
I look forward to you starting to design your very own programs, as I think it’s a great way to further your knowledge and experience. I thank you for taking the time to read this article and as always if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to leave them below and I will be sure to reply!
Until Next Time,
Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for use of this information after reading.